1. Forum
  2. >
  3. Topic: Hebrew
  4. >
  5. "אבא או אמא?"

"אבא או אמא?"

Translation:Dad or mom?

June 21, 2016

33 Comments


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/oppikoppi

Could anyone care to explain the different pronunciations of א?


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Heysoos1

Well, Hebrew doesn't write vowels most of the time, they're implied. Alef (א) is actually the sound of silence, followed by a vowel. For right now, you can just guess A and be right a lot of the time, but you'll get used to reading after a while. If it comes before a waw (vav, ו) it's O or U, like in או.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/oppikoppi

Thank you for that!


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Ouranikos

Well, it's not the sound of silence, it is a glottal stop. But since Europeans won't get it anyways, you're kinda right.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/applecellist

And does it make the "ee" sound in אמא?


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/LmaoJamBoi

The vowel is called segol. This is an example but with less space between. It goes under the letters. . . .


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/benton.1

I think you mean Hirik/chirik אִ which makes an "i/ee" sound instead of segol is אֶ which makes an "eh" sound like in "bet". אִמָּא


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/menorah84

Looks like they're divorcing


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/SariahLily

Or the kid's trying to decide which one to ask permission for something they might say no to. ;)


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Michael104266

Does או is like o?


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/orputi
  • 1937

או is pronounced like o (with a shorter sound though like in the word old), but it is a word that means or (as in either dad or mom)


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/OliverBens6

I was struggling to understand why "או" is pronounced "o". It says in the tips and notes that "א - Aleph" is silent and that "ו - Vav" is pronounced "v". However, I found this useful video which that "ו" can be pronounced "v", "o", and "u", which helps explain why it's pronounced "o".

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kJUMyHR0zN4 I hope that helps and recommend giving some of the videos a watch.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Garren516875

Why cant it be mom or dad


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/HailToTheStud

Is there some sort of chart showing pronunciation? Right now, it makes no sense, and Duoling decided to make this a course that uses hearts...


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/benton.1

I'm under the impression that all courses on a particular app. use the heart system. If you use your computer, or the computer function of your cell phone, you won't have to deal with the heart system. If you go into the "Tips" section, which one of the apps does not have, you will see charts explaining the pronunciation of the letters.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/futureholder

The pronunciation of "או" being pronounced "o"? Does that have to do with when the language was being revived and it took some Indo-European influence? Like "o" be or in Spanish also?


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/YardenNB

The natural way to spell "o" as a word is "או", so I'm not sure what you find strange here.

Having said that, in Arabic this word is pronounced with the diphthong a-u (as in English "how"). To take a wild guess (I'm not a linguist), in very ancient Hebrew or proto-semitic it was this diphthong, and then Hebrew (or some ancestor of it) contracted it to sound "o" as happens often in many languages (most "au"s in English, for example). That must have happened before the nikkud was invented in the 11th century.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/isacscjr

Put the sound of each word ehen touch over it please


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Metje

Why does Duo show [masc.] and [fem.] blocks if you can't actually use them...


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Alisabeth326671

Why is "and" separate in this case? "אבא או אמא" instead of "אבא ואמא"?


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/orputi
  • 1937

In "אבא או אמא" the middle word (או) is a word that means or. In "אמא ואבא" the first letter of the second word is actually the word and. In Hebrew we use and just with one letter (ו) that is added to the word at the beginning of it


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Daniel739607

It is diffrent cases: אבא ואמא - dad and mom אבא או אמא? - dad or mom או = or ו = and


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/AlexeyShah

Because it's "or",not "and" it is another word, containing 2 letters,aleph and vav, instand of single vav, I am not 100% sure, but it looks like only 1-letter words stick to the next word, besides you lost aleph, so your 2nd variant is wrong from every point of view


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Kumatangz

Why is Dad and Mom pronounced differently? Ee-Ma vs Aa-Ba/


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Martin358481

That is a weird question to ask, my friend. The safest and least speculative answer is … because, that is just the way Hebrew is. And most people I know, definitely most people here on Duolingo, as I have already had the chance to find out, would just be happy with that. …not me, though, but to be perfectly honest, the following 3 analyses I came up with are just pure speculation. Anyway, I got so intrigued by that question that I could not help but share these speculations with you.

1) sound symbolism: [ee] is a higher pitched sound, or perceptually “thinner”, as it were, representing the female principle; [ah] is a deeper, “thicker”, lower-pitched sound representing the male principle (this is a physiological metaphor, or some such, fill in the blanks as to why for yourself).

2) phonetic perception (a kind of follow up on the first hypothesis): as [m] (nasal bilabial stop, voiced) and [b] (oral bilabial stop, voiced) have the same place of articulation and only differ in the fact that [m] is nasal and [b] is oral, if we assumed that the starting point was something like [ʔm-] vs [ʔb-], in order to supplant the vowel between the two consonants (for ease of articulation or some such), that is [ʔVm-] and [ʔVb-], [ma] naturally creates a higher pitch sound than [ba] such that the high(est) vowel [i] matches the former and the low(est) vowel [a] the latter (a sort of a pitch harmony = I made that up) resulting in [ʔim-] vs [ʔab-]. Actually, in Arabic the vowel for mother is [u], i.e. [ʔumm(un)], which is also a high vowel (the third in the triangle /a, i, u/, so the theory works for the Arabic word, as well. In fact, it is not clear which vowel to reconstruct for Proto-Semitic here, since some Semitic languages have /i/ (or its continuation), and some have /u/ (or its continuation) – see further below for more.

3) historical development (I believe the most likely one of these speculations). These two words actually started quite differently: “mother” is to be reconstructed as (either) [ʔimm-] (or [ʔumm-], as already alluded to) but “father” as [ʔab-]. Therefore it is likely that /i/ (or /u/) in the word for “mother” is a helping vowel, to break the consonantal cluster (hence the variation within Semitic), i.e., [ʔmmV-] which was at some point a perfectly normal word (cf. Berber languages with all the consonant clusters, some words can be just consonants), but at some point, “mother” acquired a helping vowel (ie. [ʔimm-] in Aramaic and Hebrew and [ʔummu-] in Ugaritic, Akkadian and Arabic. Now, for “father”, there are actually 5 forms of this root altogether, enlarged by other consonants: [ʔbw-], [ʔby-], [ʔbh-], [ʔbt] (yes, I know, weird, vocative in Quran is [ʔabata] ‘father!’) but also just a basic [ʔab-] (Biblical Hebrew [ʔav]). So it seems that the most primitive (internal) reconstruction for “mother” and “father” is [ʔmm-] vs. [ʔab-], in which [a] is actually a full vowel. In other words, [a] was in the word for “father” before there was [i] (or [u]) in the word for “mother”. So we are pretty much where we started, because now we could also just ask WHY? … hm … :)

Fun fact: actually Modern Hebrew [aba], and also [eema] here, are loans from Aramaic, or Jewish Aramaic to be precise, [ʔabbaʔ] is etymologically either from [ʔabhaʔ] or [ʔabwaʔ]. The Biblical Hebrew word for father is [ʔav] (plural [ʔav-oθ]) and mother is [ʔemm], with closed [e] from earlier [i], which was preserved in Aramaic as such, obviously, and in the Biblical Hebrew plural [ʔimmahoθ] (θ as the first sound of 'think').


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/portu-maskon

או Sounds like or

Learn Hebrew in just 5 minutes a day. For free.